‘Junípero Serra and Beyond’ Conference Scheduled for October

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

Blessed Junipero Serra will be canonized by Pope Francis during his visit to the United States in September at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON — The Academy of American Franciscan History has announced a conference called “Junípero Serra and Beyond: Evolving Franciscan Missiologies” being held on Oct. 21 and 22 at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. The conference will feature more than a dozen speakers, including General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, as well as Russel Murray, OFM, of Holy Name Province.

All are welcome to the event that will begin on Friday evening and continue through Saturday. Information is available on the website of AAFH, a research institute affiliated with the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, Calif.

Fr. Michael will speak on “The Concept and Practice of Franciscan Mission Today: Lessons from Junípero Serra.” Russel, the Order’s general animator for evangelization, will speak on “Contemporary Missions and the Future.”

“This is an important symposium on Franciscan Mission — in the past and today,” according to Dominic Monti, OFM, a member of AAFH’s board. “We thought of this conference, in some ways, as providing a ‘follow-up’ to the canonization of Junípero Serra last fall. We wanted to take a look at Serra’s life and mission activities in historical context — the work of the friars under the patronage of the Spanish crown — and then go forward to see how the mission of Franciscans has changed over the years and what are some current directions. It is an academic conference to be sure, but at the same time, hopefully, one that will interest many laypeople in the sense of non-academics as well.”

The event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday with the 10th annual Tibesar Lecture featuring John Schwaller of the University at Albany who will speak on “Fr. Agustin de Vetancurt and the Via Crucis en Mexicano.”

The AAFH is “dedicated to the encouragement of the study of the Franciscan Order in the Americas primarily through the publication of monographs, documents, a scholarly journal, as well as sponsoring seminars, conferences, and public lectures,” according to its website which includes information about publications and scholarships. The organization was founded in 1943 by Mathias Faust, OFM, who was then — during World War II — serving as the Order’s general delegate for the Americas.

Those who wish to register for the Junípero Serra conference are asked to contact Jeffrey Burns, director of the AAFH, at acadafh@fst.edu or 760-547-1800. Burns is the primary organizer of the conference and he reports to the board, which funds the activities of his office as well as other projects. The board is composed of friars of the English-speaking Conference, two of whom — in addition to Dominic — are from Holy Name Province — Brian Belanger, OFM, and Daniel Dwyer, OFM, both stationed at Siena College near Albany, N.Y.

The chair of the board is Br. William Short, OFM, who is on the faculty of the FST. “Fr. Bill and Fr. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, the Provincial Minister of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, who was the chair of the board until this past spring, were the board members who worked most closely with Jeff Burns in organizing this conference, as Bill was quite involved with the activities concerning Serra’s canonization and Jack is also a scholar of U.S. Franciscan history, although we all offered our suggestions at our meetings,” said Dominic, a distinguished professor of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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